GNPC – Exploring and Producing

Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is charged with ensuring the country’s hydrocarbon resources are exploited for the benefit of Ghana’s people.

The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation was established 37 years ago as the National Oil Company of Ghana with the mission to promote petroleum exploitation and exploration activities, to appraise and develop existing discoveries, and also ensure that Ghana benefits the most from the development of the country’s petroleum resources.

“The Corporation once upon a time, regulated all petroleum operations on behalf of the state in addition to being a partner in all hydrocarbon-related projects by equity participation,” explains the Corporation’s COO, James Yamoah. “I believe the Corporation’s selling point lies in its flexibility to acquire stakes in all upstream development operations within the country. The Corporation has been involved in all petroleum-related activities both offshore and onshore and remains the repository of data and human capital as far as petroleum operations are concerned till date.”

The business also represents an essential collaboration between its stakeholders in both business and government.

“Our broad consensus amongst industry stakeholders, particularly policy makers and legislators is also a selling point,” Yamoah points out. “GNPC’s commercial leadership of the oil and gas industry is critical to producing positive impacts across the energy value chain in Ghana and the wider national economy.”

The Corporation works with the mandate of the Petroleum [Exploration and Production] Law, 1984, PNDC Law 84, which was enacted to provide the regulatory framework for the exploitation of Ghana’s hydrocarbon resources.

As it was originally envisaged, the Corporation would be structured around five main functional divisions with four staff departments. Over the years the structure of the company has been reviewed and refined and currently, the business incorporates a wider scope of activities consistent with the Corporation’s evolving strategy. Today GNPC employs 300 members of staff and has a seven-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Ghana Government, which exercises oversight responsibility for the Corporation and gives it policy direction.

Indeed, Yamoah tells us that being a nationalised corporation offers the GNPC a number of key advantages.

“GNPC’s active participation in all petroleum operations in Ghana (backed by law) on non-operated assets: the extensive nature of our mandate to participate in the whole oil and gas value chain and our exclusive rights to enter into any open area to perform E&P operations on our own with favourable terms plays to our advantage,” he explains.

Taking Credit

While GNPC is in a strong position, the task ahead of it is no small one, especially as the Corporation has set itself the goal of becoming a completely financially independent entity.

“In the future, we want to achieve GNPC financial independence by 2026 and secure GNPC’s long-term financial sustainability,” Yamoah tells us. “We also want to achieve this by improving operational efficiency and commercialise our core and non-core activities to generate revenue. We are working to become a standalone operator and transition into an energy company.”

Being a state-owned entity brings challenges as well, particularly when it comes to making decisions to guide the course of the business.

“Owing to the fact that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation is a State Agency with major recourse to key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Finance etc; approval and decision gates can be lengthy,” Yamoah admits. “This affects the turnaround time of the Corporation to sometimes meet critical decision timelines. The Corporation’s financial activities are dependent on the Government’s timelines until 2026 and approvals with releasing funds allocated for the Corporation’s needs, and this can be challenging sometimes.”

For this reason, alongside the Corporation’s quest for financial independence, GNPC is beginning to look for alternative sources of financing for their projects, which means positioning the company in such a way that it presents an appealing prospect to potential financiers.

“The Corporation has conducted its operations in a manner that is considered credit-worthy in the sight of financial houses, hence if need be for the Corporation to source funds from the investment community, there should be little resistance,” Yamoah explains.

A Pool of Talent

Of course, no business can be credit-worthy without a strong team of people behind it, and for Ghana National Petroleum Corporation its people are its most valuable resources.

“Quality employees are recruited using various strategies such as engaging world-class HR recruiting firms with clear terms of reference issued by the Corporation, sourcing graduate trainees from the universities through a robust screening exercise, and also through job fairs during local and international conferences,” Yamoah says. “Over 85% of our current staff have been trained to post-graduate level.  Most of these postgraduates received sponsorship by the Corporation. This is a clear testament of the Priority given to staff as far as human resource development is concerned. The Corporation, aside from offering post-graduate training to its employees, also sponsors personnel in both on-the-job-training through attachments and secondment agreements with our Joint Partner IOCs, and also participates in industry-related training programs.”

With this rich pool of talent, strong financial credentials and the backing of the Ghanaian government, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation is well set for the future, and they have big plans for that future. Yamoah confides in us about a number of big plans the company has going forward, including strategic farm-ins (commercial interest) for existing exploration and production projects, the strategic acquisition of commercial stakes in new blocks, new standalone petroleum operations, the upcoming internationalisation and an increase in participating interests in exploration and production projects.

The Corporation is also going to be looking into leveraging opportunities in the gas value chain, as well as monetising service provision and improving the revenue generation capacity of the business’s subsidiaries.

However, while there are a wide number of arenas where GNPC is looking to expand and develop, it still hasn’t lost sight of its core mission.

“Amongst the many projects mentioned above, the Corporation’s central and strategic vision is exploring the ongoing Voltaian Basin project,” Yamoah says. “The Corporation is also exploiting opportunities to grow its reserves and diversify into other prudent investments.”

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